Spicy Bourbon Barbecue Sauce

Spicy Bourbon Barbecue Sauce Recipe

For smoke flavoring, I like to go to the source. No liquid smoke here. A great way to make this sauce is, if you have room, to put the ketchup in the smoker along with your ribs or pork shoulder (or whatever you happen to be cooking) for the first two hours of a long smoke. Put a drip pan under the meat and substitute a tablespoon of the drippings for the bacon fat below, as this adds a nice little extra something.–Mitchell Rosenthal

LC Yes, Smoked Ketchup Note

Yes, smoked ketchup. This recipe actually has you smoke ketchup. Believe it. Better yet, taste it, whether by the spoonful or slathered all over some ribs that are cooked low and slow, just as they ought to be.

Special Equipment: 2 to 3 handfuls hickory chips, soaked in water for at least 30 minutes

Spicy Bourbon Barbecue Sauce Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 10 M
  • 2 H, 40 M
  • Makes 1 1/2 quarts


  • Two 24-ounce bottles ketchup
  • 2/3 cup bourbon
  • 2/3 cup Dijon mustard
  • 2/3 cup dark molasses
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 1/3 cup store-bought or homemade hot sauce
  • 1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 4 teaspoons onion powder
  • 4 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon rendered bacon drippings
  • 1 tablespoon salt


  • 1. Prepare a barrel smoker. You want the temperature to be between 225°F and 250°F (107°C and 121°C).
  • 2. Place the ketchup in a large metal bowl, place the bowl in the smoker, and add a handful of the soaked hickory chips to the coals. Smoke the ketchup for 2 hours, stirring every 30 minutes. Be mindful of maintaining a consistent temperature inside the smoker, adding charcoal as needed to keep it in the 225°F to 250°F range (107°C and 121°C). You may need to add more soaked hickory chips to keep the smoke flowing.
  • 3. Transfer the smoked ketchup to a large pot. Add the bourbon, mustard, molasses, water, hot red pepper sauce, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, onion powder, garlic powder, bacon drippings, and salt and stir well to combine. Place over low heat and cook, stirring occasionally for about 30 minutes, or until the sugar has dissolved and the sauce has thickened and darkened slightly. Immediately slather the sauce over some ribs or other meat of some sort. Any leftover sauce will keep, tightly covered, in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
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